Are you familiar with the story of Ruth in the bible? It is a wonderful story tucked in between Judges, the Samuels and the Kings. It was a good change of pace for me. I wonder as I write this whether or not the book of Ruth touches men or women more. It is a story of friendship, loyalty, love and redemption all woven into just four short chapters.
Does anything come to your mind when you think of the story of Ruth? A lot of women love the love story in its pages as Ruth, a young widow, is pursued by Boaz, the man of any woman's dreams. However, whenever I read this story, I can't help but center on the picture of true friendship portrayed therein. For this reason, I will concentrate on just the first chapter of Ruth.
To set the stage for you, here is my reader's digest of the story. Naomi, her husband and two sons went to the country of Moab to live. The sons married Moabite women (Ruth & Orpah). They lived there about 10 years and then Naomi's husband and two sons died, leaving Naomi with only her daughters-in-law. Pretty tragic, huh? Naomi tells her DIL's to go back home to their mothers. Orpah leaves and Ruth remains.
Simple story so far. So why do I get stuck on the friendship thing? Because of the loyal friendship of Ruth to Naomi. Even in the hard times, Ruth does not leave her. Naomi begs Ruth to leave, but look at Ruth's response:
Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The LORD do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.
Ruth 1:16-17 (NKJV)
After hearing this declaration from Ruth, Naomi still begs Ruth to leave her and proclaims how empty her life is (Ruth 1:20-21). I want to shout out to Naomi, "Count your blessings! You've got a loyal friend...hang on to her!" I know that Naomi is grieving, and I can't imagine the despair of losing your husband and children. A friendship certainly could not compare to that. However, my point here is that in the midst of the trials we are in, there is sure to be an overlooked blessing in our lives somewhere. I wholeheartedly believe that if we look hard enough we will find some treasure in our rubble.
It reminds me of the verse about being content in Hebrews 13:5
Let your conduct be without coveteousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
To give Naomi a bit of grace, I suppose she was too caught up in the raw emotion to be thinking about all of her blessings and check her scriptures for a verse on contentment and peace to hold on to. However, the principle still remains for us. Naomi was not alone. She still had a friend. No matter how bad our lives seem, we still have a Friend. Jesus is His name. He will never leave us or forsake us. Jesus himself said it. We just need to put our emotions aside and rest in the facts of God's word. It is not always easy to do and sometimes we all just need our good cry. However, we must not stay down, but pick ourselves back up, remember all of the blessings that we do have, and move forward.